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Medical Marijuana Laws

The Highs and Lows of Medical Marijuana Laws

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Medical marijuana laws are being adopted by states at such a quick pace that employers may be struggling to keep their drug-testing policies up-to-date – especially employers with multistate operations. The rapidly changing landscape of medical marijuana laws should prompt employers to review drug-testing policies and procedures to ensure conformity.

Listen to expert and attorney, Jim Reidy, from Sheehan Phinney, discuss current and future drug laws on the HR Break Room podcast, “A New Leaf on Drug Policy Screening Policies: Time for a change?”

States with Strong Employment Protections

Some states that have passed medical marijuana laws also have passed extensive employment protections for individuals holding “qualified patient” registration cards. Arizona, Delaware and Minnesota prohibit employers from discriminating against a person in hiring, termination or imposing any term or condition of employment based upon:

  • a person’s status as a card holder
  • a qualified patient’s positive drug test for marijuana components or metabolites

Exceptions to this rule do exist if:

  • the employer would lose federal money or licensure due to federal law;
  • the employee would be employed in a “safety-sensitive” position; or
  • the employee used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana at work

 

Weaker Employment Protections

Other states in which marijuana is legal for medical purposes have passed some employment protections, but which are less stringent. In states such as Colorado, Illinois and Pennsylvania, an employer cannot discriminate based on a qualified patient’s card status, but generally, a positive drug test would be grounds for discipline or termination. Many other states, generally states where marijuana remains completely illegal, have no employment protections at all for qualified patients. States such as Oklahoma, Texas, and Ohio allow employers to have a zero-tolerance drug testing policy, regardless of whether an employee is a qualified patient in another state.

 

Reasonable Accommodations

Another consideration for employers is whether to allow an employee’s medical marijuana use as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Courts have been relatively clear that the ADA does not protect individuals who use marijuana for medical purposes or require accommodation for such use. This is largely because marijuana is still a federally illicit drug. However, New York has its own state disability accommodation law that may require New York employers to reasonably accommodate “qualified patients” of medical marijuana.

Similarly, the Nevada legislature passed a bill amending its existing medical marijuana statute to expressly require employers to attempt to make reasonable accommodations for the medical needs of an employee who uses marijuana, if the employee holds a valid registry identification card. Employers would not be required to provide a reasonable accommodation if it would:

  • pose a danger to persons or property;
  • impose an undue hardship on the employer; or
  • prohibit the employee from fulfilling any or all of his or her job responsibilities.

 

The complicated nature of the state and federal regulations relating to employee marijuana use creates difficulties drafting and enforcing consistent drug-testing policies and procedures. It is important for employers to continually review their existing drug-testing policies to ensure any new developments in the medical marijuana landscape have not outdated its policy.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

 


Jason Hines

by Jason Hines


Author Bio: Jason Hines is a Paycom compliance attorney. With more than five years’ experience in the legal field, he monitors developments in human resource laws, rules and regulations to ensure any changes are promptly updated in Paycom’s system for our clients. Previously, he was an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson. Hines earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and his juris doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. A fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hines also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife and daughter.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Trump Announces 2 Changes to ACA

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On Oct. 12, President Donald Trump ordered comprehensive changes to the nation’s health insurance system while also, in a separate move, ended health care subsidies for low-income Americans. The White House billed the decisions as relief to those suffering under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), while the opposition condemned these changes as actions aimed at undercutting the ACA.

Expansion of association health plans and short-term insurance

The executive order signed by Trump directs federal agencies to make it easier to set up “association health plans,” which are groups of small businesses that pool together to buy insurance. The order also seeks to broaden the definition of short-term insurance from three months to almost a year in duration.

By expanding both these types of plans, the administration expects insurance to be less costly than the plans sold on the state-based insurance exchanges, which provide more extensive coverage options. One concern, however, is healthy customers will jump out of the individual markets for cheaper plans, leaving sicker customers on the underwritten exchanges.

Health care subsidies to end

Trump also will end health care subsidy payments to insurance companies that used them to pay out-of-pocket costs for low-income people receiving coverage through the exchanges. The future of these payments have been in doubt for months – dating back to the Obama administration – because of a lawsuit filed by House Republicans. The lawsuit alleged the Obama administration was paying these subsidies illegally because Congress had never authorized the cost-sharing arrangement.

Until now, the Trump administration had continued the payments on a monthly basis. A group of state attorneys general has indicated it will sue to block the administration from ending these payments, which it claims will cause the individual markets to unravel.

ACA Awaits Repeal or Repair

What this means for employers

Neither of these changes is aimed primarily at employers subject to the ACA employer mandate, so clients using Paycom’s ACA services likely won’t see a direct impact to their obligations under the law. However, the tweaks indirectly could result in higher costs to employer-sponsored plans.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

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Posted in ACA, Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured

Jason Hines

by Jason Hines


Author Bio: Jason Hines is a Paycom compliance attorney. With more than five years’ experience in the legal field, he monitors developments in human resource laws, rules and regulations to ensure any changes are promptly updated in Paycom’s system for our clients. Previously, he was an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson. Hines earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and his juris doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. A fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hines also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife and daughter.

EEO-1 Pay Data

EEO-1 Pay Data Requirements on Indefinite Hold

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The EEO-1 report is changing once again. Recently, the new pay data and hours worked requirements announced last year were suspended indefinitely by the Office of Information Regulatory Affairs. While employers will report Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) information in a familiar format, they need to be aware of key date changes.

3 important changes

The biggest change to the report is the suspension of the requirement to report pay data and hours worked. For 2017, employers will report in the prior 2016 format, which only collects data on race, ethnicity and gender by occupational category. When the new EEO-1 requirements were announced by the Obama administration last year, the 2017 reporting deadline was moved from Sept. 30, 2017, to March 31, 2018.

According to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) statement, “the previously approved EEO-1 form which collects data on race, ethnicity and gender by occupational category will remain in effect. Employers should plan to comply with the earlier approved EEO-1 (Component 1) by the previously set filing date of March 2018.” Additionally, the previously approved “workforce snapshot” period of Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 will remain in effect. Therefore, employers must submit reports based on a payroll period within that time frame.

Summary of the changes:

  • The deadline to file EEO-1 reports for 2017 is March 31, 2018;
  • Reports must be based on a payroll period in October, November or December of 2017; and,
  • Employers may use the same EEO-1 form used in 2016.

The EEOC has not yet fully updated its website to reflect this new information, but the home page provides some explanation.

Pay data requirement gone?

The pay data and hours worked requirements simply have been suspended. Until the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completes its review of the rule, their future is unclear. The OMB is concerned that some aspects of the revised rule “lack practical utility, are unnecessarily burdensome, and do not adequately address privacy and confidentiality issues.” The acting chair of the EEOC, Victoria Lipnic, has been vocal with her opposition to the pay data requirement, which she voted against when it was initially proposed.

Although the EEO-1 report appears to be ditching the pay data requirement, state governments may step in to fill the void. Under a proposal in California, employers in the state with more than 500 employees would be required to submit information to the Secretary of State on gender wage differentials. Although this measure has not been signed by the governor, employers should monitor this legislation, which would go into effect in 2019.

Disclaimer: This blog includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal problems.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog, Compliance, Employment Law, Featured

Jason Hines

by Jason Hines


Author Bio: Jason Hines is a Paycom compliance attorney. With more than five years’ experience in the legal field, he monitors developments in human resource laws, rules and regulations to ensure any changes are promptly updated in Paycom’s system for our clients. Previously, he was an attorney at the Oklahoma City law firm Elias, Books, Brown & Nelson. Hines earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and his juris doctor degree from the Oklahoma City University School of Law, where he graduated cum laude. A fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Hines also enjoys exploring the great outdoors with his wife and daughter.

Employee Experience

The Winning Workforce Equation

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The term “the employee experience” is thrown around frequently in HR today. It’s not the same as “employee engagement,” another well-known industry buzzword. With trends evolving at such a rapid pace, what is this new concept that’s making waves in the industry?

Looking for a deeper dive into the employee experience? Check out the HR Break Room podcast episode, “Happy Employees = Happy Customers: The Equation for a Winning Workforce” with author Jacob Morgan.

According to the author of The Employee Experience Advantage, Jacob Morgan, the employee experience is the sum of a worker’s experiences, good or bad, during his or her term of employment at an organization. A business can enhance that experience by addressing and influencing the elements of culture, technology and physical space. He calls the combination of these three things, “the employee experience equation.” As Morgan said, “When you invest in the employee experience, you’ll start to notice an engaged workforce. And an engaged workforce will deliver business outcomes.”

Culture – a side effect

A healthy corporate culture is one of the three critical pieces of a great employee experience. Employees spend a significant amount of their lives at work, which makes the atmosphere and community of the organization essential. When people spend 40 hours a week of what Morgan calls “prolonged exposure” in the workplace with their peers, certain company ideas and attitudes are all but contagious. A healthy culture can promote a fun environment, hard work ethic and cohesive teamwork. On the flip side, an unhealthy culture can promote stressful work, toxic drama and a “business first, people second” environment that inevitably will lead to high turnover.

It is important to remember no organization can have a truly “perfect” culture; the trick is to create your ideal culture by ensuring your organization’s core values align with the people you want to see in your organization.

Technology – supports employee growth

As the central nervous system of your organization, technology will continue to power the future of work. The employee experience is only possible because of the communication and collaboration available through today’s technology. Without advances such as applicant tracking systems or messenger apps, a business cannot have an optimal recruitment or talent-tracking process, or real-time feedback or recognition. Technology empowers everything when we think about the future of work: your people and your business needs.

Organizations that don’t invest in technology will find that the human aspects surrounding it will start to break down. Investing in technology ensures your employees have all the tools they need to succeed and grow.

Space – a symbol

Whether a corporate headquarters, coffee shop or home office, everybody works in a physical space, the last critical piece to the equation. The physical workspace is also a symbol that represents your organization, and as technology continues to evolve, leading companies are creating incentives to bring employees back to the office. Creating a vibrant, technological workplace connects your employees’ sense of belonging and purpose to their jobs.

The employee experience is the next future investment for organizations dedicated to workforce happiness. Ensure your employees’ well-being by taking the first steps in your organization by opening communication in these three key areas: culture, technology and physical space.

Tags: ,
Posted in Blog, Employee Experience, Featured, Talent Management

caleb.masters

by Caleb Masters


Author Bio: Caleb is the host of The HR Break Room and a Webinar and Podcast Producer at Paycom. With more than 5 years of experience as a published online writer and content producer, Caleb has produced dozens of podcasts and videos for multiple industries both local and online. Caleb continues to assist organizations creatively communicate their ideas and messages through researched talks, blog posts and new media. Outside of work, Caleb enjoys running, discussing movies and trying new local restaurants.

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